Study suggests green infrastructure may solve city problems

One way to improve Jacksonville’s problems with stormwater flooding, crime, air pollution, job creation and mental health is simple – plant more trees, said Karen Firehock. As executive director of Green Infrastructure Center, a nonprofit based in Charlottesville, Virginia, Firehock and her team have been conducting a federally-funded independent review of Jacksonville’s urban canopy and its effect on stormwater and water quality.

During the second of three public meetings, which was sponsored by the San Marco Preservation Society and held in Preservation Hall February 28, Firehock explained how her organization is helping the City of Jacksonville map, evaluate and restore its urban forest while focusing on stormwater management. Jacksonville is one of 12 southern cities to be part of the study, which is funded by the United States Forest Service.

Study suggests green infrastructure may solve city problems
POSTED ON APRIL 1, 2019BY EDITORARTICLES, BROOKLYN, DOWNTOWN, SPRINGFIELD, NEIGHBORHOOD NEWS, RIVERSIDE, AVONDALE, ORTEGA, MURRAY HILL, SAN JOSE, SAN MARCO, ST. NICHOLAS, TOP STORIES

Study suggests green infrastructure may solve city problems
One way to improve Jacksonville’s problems with stormwater flooding, crime, air pollution, job creation and mental health is simple – plant more trees, said Karen Firehock.

As executive director of Green Infrastructure Center, a nonprofit based in Charlottesville, Virginia, Firehock and her team have been conducting a federally-funded independent review of Jacksonville’s urban canopy and its effect on stormwater and water quality.

LeAnna Cumber, District 5 City Councilwoman-elect with Karen Firehock of the Green Infrastructure Center
During the second of three public meetings, which was sponsored by the San Marco Preservation Society and held in Preservation Hall February 28, Firehock explained how her organization is helping the City of Jacksonville map, evaluate and restore its urban forest while focusing on stormwater management. Jacksonville is one of 12 southern cities to be part of the study, which is funded by the United States Forest Service.

During the meeting, which was sparsely attended, Firehock discussed specific ways the City can beef up its green infrastructure. At the end of the study, the nonprofit will provide the City with an online casebook, which Jacksonville residents can access with its recommendations and findings. The Green Infrastructure Center held its third and final meeting March 28 in Springfield.

“We want cities to understand that trees, wetlands, streams, and rivers are part of the cities’ infrastructure, and we need to manage them just like we manage our built assets,” she said, noting that “gray” infrastructure is comprised of sidewalks, roadways, pipes, and buildings. Jacksonville Urban Forester Richard Leon agreed. “We are looking at how urban trees affect our city’s water quality, and how we can incorporate trees, so they are looked at as infrastructure and not just as a commodity,” he said before the meeting.

Forty-two percent of Duval County is covered with trees, although they are not evenly distributed. Having a healthy urban tree canopy is very beneficial. Not only do trees soak up stormwater – a single tree, depending on species and size, can soak up between 760 and 4,000 gallons of water per year – they provide “access to fitness,” clean the air, improve mental health, reduce crime, lower residential vacancy rates, encourage people to shop more, and attract small companies to cities,” Firehock said.

“Trees pick up particulate matter and clean the air. If you have a well-treed neighborhood, you are going to have better air quality than one that doesn’t have many trees. Trees improve mental health. We heal better when we see green. Less crime occurs in neighborhoods with lots of trees. Statistically, it is proven the more treed the area, the lower the crime rate,” she said, also adding that people shop longer and pay more per item with they visit tree-lined shopping districts. “It makes sense to spend money on trees and plant them right. You’ll get it back in property taxes and sales taxes. The trees will pay the city back.”

Source: Study suggests green infrastructure may solve city problems – The Resident Community News Group, Inc., 2019-04-01